“Long and Assiduous Endeavors”: The Archaeological Exploration of John Custis’ Williamsburg Garden

  • Tue, May 24, 2022 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
  • Eastern Standard Time

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John Custis IV is one of Williamsburg’s more colorful historic residents. In addition to being a member of the Governor’s Council, a wealthy plantation owner, and eventually the first father-in-law of Martha Washington, Custis was the creator of one of the most renowned colonial gardens of the early 18th century. By 1715 Custis had established a home on a four acre lot on the southern edge of Williamsburg which became known as Custis Square. Throughout the early 18th century Custis’ indulgence in ornamental garden design resulted in the creation of a pleasure garden that was inferior to few. His prolific correspondence with garden luminaries such as Peter Collinson reveals that the Custis Square garden contained gravel paths, topiary, native and imported plant varieties, and even statues. Despite these documentary details little is known about the appearance or layout of this garden. Through archaeological excavations begun in 2019 the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has embarked on a five year initiative to uncover this important lost garden. Led by Jack Gary, Director of Archaeology, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, this talk will explore what we know about John Custis as a garden designer and what we are beginning to discover through archaeological research.    

About the Presenter:

Jack Gary - Director of Archaeology, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Jack Gary is the Director of Archaeology for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, a position he has held since 2018. He leads a team of archaeologists, specialized consultants, and scholars to reveal the hidden stories of Williamsburg’s past. He is the former Director of Archaeology and Landscapes for Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest where he directed the restoration of the ornamental landscape surrounding Jefferson’s villa retreat. Jack is the author or coauthor on over 40 publications, technical reports, and conference papers. He is the co-editor of the 2012 book Jefferson’s Poplar Forest: Unearthing a Virginia Plantation. He has conducted research in Virginia, New York, and Massachusetts with specific research interests in plantation and ornamental landscapes. 

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After registering for the webinar, attendees will receive an automated confirmation email with connection instructions. We program will take place via Zoom, which is available for free download here: https://zoom.us/download.

Date & Time

Tue, May 24, 2022 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Stratford Hall

A National Historic Landmark, Stratford Hall is home to the Lees of Virginia and is located in the Northern Neck of Virginia. Nestled along the Potomac River, Stratford Hall’s nearly 2,000 acres come to life through the presentation and preservation of the 18th-century Great House, vibrant gardens, natural trails revealing breathtaking river views, and the stories of all who lived here. 

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